Aihole Durga Temple: Durga as Mahishasuramardini (Slayer of Mahishasura)

Durga as Mahishasuramardini installed inside a devakoshta of the Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka, India

Durga as Mahishasuramardini

Durga as Mahishasuramardini
This stunningly beautiful sculpture depicting Goddess Durga as Mahishasuramardini is installed in one of the six devakoshtas (niches) built into the inner wall of the pradakshina patha (clockwise circumambulation path) of the Durga Temple, located in Aihole, Karnataka, India.

The sculpture depicts Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasura, an evil demon who took the form of a buffalo. Because of this feat, she is known as Mahishasuramardini. The word Mahishasuramardini is a concatenation of three Sanskrit words: mahisha (buffalo), asura (demon), and mardini (slayer). The slaying of Mahishasura is all about the triumph of good over evil and is based on an episode narrated in the Devi Mahatmya, a part of Markandeya Purana.

As you can see from this narrative sculpture, Goddess Durga is standing triumphantly over Mahishasura, i.e., the buffalo that appears to have fallen on the ground. Standing to the right of Durga is her vehicle, a lion (sometimes she is seen riding a tiger). Goddess Durga has ten arms, each holding different weapons/objects given to her by various gods.

Created by Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma, and the other gods by combining their energies, Durga is a Hindu goddess of war who symbolizes Shakti (roughly translates as power and strength).

The six devakoshtas are built into the inner wall of the covered pradakshina patha (circumambulation path) that surrounds the garbhagriha (inner sanctum) and the sabhamantapa (congregation hall) of the temple. The jālandharas (perforated stone windows) occupy the space between the devakoshtas.

Other Mahishasuramardini Sculptures
Durga as Mahishasuramardini (Slayer of Mahishasura) on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Durga as Mahishasuramardini on the outer wall of the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu in Karnataka, India
Statue of Durga as Mahishasuramardini standing in the Shiva Temple at Prambanan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Here is the list of sculptures in the six devakoshtas:
South corridor
1. East: Shiva with his vehicle Nandi
2. Middle: Narasimhavatara, the fourth avatar of Vishnu
3. West: Vishnu riding Garuda

North corridor
4. West: Varahavatara, the third avatar of Vishnu
5. Middle: Durga as Mahishasuramardini (Slayer of Mahishasura) – Current image
6. East: Harihara

Related Pages
Durga Temple at Aihole
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Somanathapura Keshava Temple – A Masterpiece of Hoysala Temple Art
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals

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